Stress and its effect on weight gain and weight loss.*

Monday, 27 February 2017, By Andrea Taliana

 

I am going to touch on a topic that everyone can relate to; stress. We all have experienced stress in our lives one way or another. But how does stress affect our body's ability to lose weight?

What is stress? There are different types of stress which we all can experience. There is physical stress caused by such elements as lack of sleep, sitting all day and over training in the gym. We also experience biochemical stress which comes from the food we eat, the toxins we take in (such as deodorants and make-up) and hormone break down in our body. Other factors include emotional stress, work related stress, financial stress and family can be quite stressful too. All these factors have an effect on our stress levels.

What does stress do? Our body's nervous system responds to stress in a manner that is perfectly designed for our survival. This is known as the "Fight or Flight" response. "Fight or Flight" is a biological reaction that allows our sympathetic nervous system to respond quickly to any dangerous situation we find ourselves in. During "Fight or Flight", our bodies produce Cortisol and Adrenaline. If our stress levels are not reduced in the long term, the over-production of Cortisol and Adrenaline can cause disease and ultimately death. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands. The function of Cortisol is to increase blood sugar through gluconeogenesis, to suppress the immune system. High levels of cortisol can cause you to crave sugary and fatty foods, as a result of the higher insulin levels and your blood sugar dropping. The bottom line is, the more stress you have, the more cortisol you produce and the higher appetite for junk food you'll have. This eventually results in more belly fat!! The extra weight you then carry can lead to other, more serious problems such as; high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

How do you reduce stress and kick start your weight loss?

Physical exercise plays a key role in reducing and preventing the effects of stress, but you can't however overdo it as this will produce too much cortisol. Any form of exercise can help relieve stress and burn away anger, tension and frustrations. Endorphins are released while exercising which lift your mood and make you feel good. Win-win!

Engaging socially is also a great way to control stress. There is something about communicating with another person that is calming to your nervous system (as long as it's a nice conversation and not an argument). Communication is perceived as a safe situation by your nervous system, no reason for fight or flight. You can even do both exercise and socialising together at group training classes to help reduce your stress levels even more!

It is also important to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Eat a healthy, well balance diet to help nourish our bodies and help to prepare our bodies to cope with stress. Reduce the amount of caffeine and sugar you are consuming every day. Both coffee and sugar produce a temporary 'high' for our bodies, followed by a crash in our mood and energy. Reducing these will help you feel more relaxed and help you sleep better.

By improving our lifestyle through exercise, happy social engagement and healthy eating habits we can reduce our stress levels and also see an improvement in our weight loss! Again, most certainly a win-win situation!

*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.

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